If you told me that I’d be earning a living from photography when I used to shoot blurry shots, I’d have laughed out loud and told you copywriting is my thing. See, photography was just a hobby. It was one of those things I did when I had nothing to do. I loved creating ads and didn’t see myself doing anything else.
Eight years later, I’m living solely off the clicking of my camera. It’s great to earn a living from what you love, especially when you know it’s what God made you for. Add travel to breathtaking places and meeting interesting people to the list and you’ll understand why I love what I do.
Photography isn’t always rosy though. I’ve had many short nights and long working days working to deliver to keep my word to clients. There’s times when I push myself and don’t get photos that I can be proud of. Moments like these can be humbling. They remind me that I need to keep learning and shooting even when I’ve not been asked to.
The worst experiences I’ve had as a photographer have been finding my work stolen by an organisation or individual. On days like these, I feel like giving up, calling it a day, quitting photography and getting back to copywriting. But when I remember we serve a Just God, I know there is hope. Hope that one day, all the people who have plagiarised or stolen my work and that of other photographers will come to book.
People like @pdevour who’s day of reckoning came sooner than I thought.
Then there’s Spielworks. For almost a year, their Sumu La Penzi production was advertised on DStv and GOtv using my image without my knowledge. They later made changes to the trailer, but not before I’d obtained a copy for myself for reference purposes. You’ll see my photo of Nairobi used in two instances, at the 3rd and 58th seconds, both times, it’s manipulated to hide it’s identity.
The case is currently in court.
KICC, ‘Africa’s premier meeting venue’ are next in line. These guys are defiant to another level. For sometime now, they have been using one of my images of Nairobi on their website.
In September 2013, through my lawyer, they were informed that they did not have the rights to the image and as of the time of publishing this post, have not pulled it from their website. To make it worse, they cropped out my watermark to disguise the true ownership of the image.
We’ll settle this in court.
Theft knows no boundaries. Last year, CNBC Africa run the 2014 All Africa Business Leaders Awards, a high profile event that they even got Johnnie Walker Blue Label to sponsor. To promote the awards, they used my image of Nairobi on their website without my consent.
The case is also in court.
Finally, and hopefully this will be the last, was the case with Easy Taxi.
My lawyer and I got to meet with their MD in Kenya. He is a good guy and was very apologetic for their error. It turns out that some guy was contracted by the Easy Taxi HQ to come up with the ad but due diligence wasn’t done on the image used. We went into negotiations with their legal rep and since we were unable to reach an out of court settlement, we will be headed to court soon.
There’s been many cases of plagiarism but most go unnoticed and unmentioned, leaving the content creators sore and helpless. Plagiarism continues because those offended have been unable to defend themselves against those who have stolen their work, mostly companies of ‘high standing’ in society. Well, not anymore.
Plagiarism stops here.
I believe a precedence needs to be set so that photographers can earn a living from what they are passionate about. We have a very strong copyright law in Kenya that protects content creators like photographers and I seek to have it enforced to it’s full extent. Though costly, I will continue my pursuit of justice and I have full confidence that, with God as my witness, justice will be served.
—————————— UPDATE ——————————
I’m happy to report that Easy Taxi and I arrived at an out-of-court settlement on 19th August 2015.